Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-11-18
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 18/11/1998 (ANA)
- Greece says Ocalan case an issue for all of Europe
- Mostly peaceful commemorations for Polytechnic anniversary held
- Chorus of support rises for PKK leader
- Greece, Cuba hold talks
- EU figures: Greeks smoke more but less prone to cancer
- Classics prof: Ancient Greeks were environmentalists
- OECD draft report cites progress in Greek economy
- Administrative cost of Greek taxation double the OECD average
- Bourse ends slightly lower
- Delta sales, profits increase in '98
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Greece says Ocalan case an issue for all of Europe
Greece threw a lifeline to Italy yesterday, urging members of the European
Union to acknowledge that the crisis over Kurdish leader Abdallah Ocalan
was really a problem for all of Europe and must be tackled.
Greek Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said Mr. Ocalan could
have turned up in any of the 15 EU member-states, provoking the same
standoff between allied countries that now confronts Rome and Ankara.
The fact that he flew to Italy seeking political asylum should not be a
pretext for Europe to turn its back and let Italy go it alone in a crisis
of unpredictable dimensions, he said.
The Italian and Turkish prime ministers have clashed verbally over Turkey's
demands for the extradition of Mr. Ocalan to stand trial on terrorism
charges, which carry the death penalty, and over Italy's warning that
constitutionally it cannot do so.
"It really is not an Italian problem or a question of Italian-Turkish
relations. It is a European problem," Mr. Papandreou said in an interview
during a meeting of European foreign and defence ministers in Rome.
Many European countries are home to thousands of Kurdish refugees from
"If we are to act responsibly as the European Union, we should take this
issue up and see if we can find ways with the Turkish government, to deal
with this in a more appropriate manner according to our common values and
"What we need to do is for both sides, Turkey and the EU, to say this
(Kurdish minority) issue exists. We can't hide from it or solve it through
mutual name-calling and recriminations," Mr. Papandreou said.
Today it was the Kurds. Tomorrow the problem might be with Turkey's Islamic
parties or another minority or its journalists.
Mr. Papanderou agreed that the first reaction by Italy's EU partners to the
Ocalan case was: "Thank God it wasn't us!"
"However, I think the second, cool-headed thought from colleagues was that
this is a problem we can't let Italy stand alone with," he added.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, whose country hosts thousands of
Kurds and which has banned Ocalan's Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) said the
crisis could be an opportunity to open up the whole question of Kurdish
Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday expressed the hope that the
request for political asylum by Mr. Ocalan in Italy would open the way to a
political solution of the Kurdish problem.
Speaking in Rome, where he participated in a meeting of the defence
ministers of the WEU, he described as "impossible" a military solution for
the Kurdish problem and condemned terrorist violence, whether it originates
by individuals, organised groups or the state.
The latest developments signal the definitive end to the military and
terrorist conflict with Turkey and the beginning of an effort by the
Kurdish people at a purely political level for self-determination and self-
government in southeastern Turkey, he said.
Mostly peaceful commemorations for Polytechnic anniversary held
Minor skirmishes between police and self-styled anarchists took place near
Omonoia Square in central Athens yesterday afternoon, during the annual
march to the US embassy, marking the 1973 students' uprising at the Athens
Polytechnic against the military junta then ruling Greece.
The event has in the past been blemished by serious riots and vandalism.
Aversion of similar incidents this year is considered largely due to the
effective presence of numerous students' groups and workers, as well as
draconian security measures around the Polytechnic and other public
Four thousand police officers were on duty for the march, along with three
public prosecutors. The police had orders to act only if violence broke
The anarchist youths threw bottles, planks of wood, stones and other
objects as well as two firebombs. There were no injuries and riot police
were reported to have enclosed the group. Police said they had detained
around 140 people when a fight broke out between anarchists and leftists on
Chorus of support rises for PKK leader
Ten ruling PASOK deputies yesterday tabled in Parliament a request for
discussion of the Kurdish problem, while they also issued a statement
requesting the joint initiative of European governments to grant hospitality
to Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan.
The statement stressed that "the Greek government, even now...should by
joint initiative with the Italian government, as well as the other
governments of European countries (Sweden, Austria) to state that Europe
grants hospitality to the leader of the Kurdish movement Abdullah
The announcement added that Europe "should accept" Mr. Ocalan and "should
reaffirm the priciples and values which comprised the foundations of their
In addition, 20 prominent figures from the world of arts and letters,
science and politics also announced the formation of a committee to support
the asylum request of Mr. Ocalan, who is currently being detained in
Members of the committee said they believed Mr. Ocalan's request was
"morally, politically and legally just and well-founded", while his
extradition to Turkey "should unreservedly be viewed as complicity in the
humiliation and eventual death of the leader of a movement who is
struggling for the right to live, dignity, human rights and individual
liberties of his people which are being blatantly violated in Turkey".
About 29,000 people have been killed in the long-running fight for self-
rule between Kurds and Turkish security forces in the southeast of
On Saturday, Greece renewed its criticism of Turkey for its military
operations against Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq, and reiterated its
support for the self-deter-mination of the Kurds.
In Hania, 34 out of 270 Kurdish refugees rescued off the coast of Crete
late last month said they had begun a hunger strike to support the campaign
to extend asylum to Mr. Ocalan, saying the Kurdish leader could not be
turned over to Turkey "like a lamb t o slaughter".
"What we want is for political asylum to be given to our leader," one of
the strikers said.
Greece, Cuba hold talks
Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis held talks with his Cuban
counterpart Isabelle Alliende yesterday regarding Havana's role in Latin
American and Caribbean regional integration, as well as Cuba's progress in
human rights issues and efforts to combat drug trafficking.
During talks, Ms Alliende was briefed by Mr. Kranidiotis on Greek-Turkish
relations, the Cyprus problem and developments in the Balkans.
At a bilateral level, the two sides ascertained very friendly relations, as
reflected by the two countries' cooperation in international organisations.
Mr. Kranidiotis told Ms Alliende that Greece intended to support Cuba's
participation in the European Union - Latin America - Caribbean summit
meeting scheduled for June 1999 in Rio de Janeiro.
Growing cooperation between Greece and Cuba includes a recent decision by
Athens to grant development aid to Havana in the form of credit facilities
totalling US$10 million, aimed primarily at promoting Greek exports to
Mr. Kranidiotis and Ms Alliende discussed bilateral economic and commercial
ties against the background of an air transport agreement which paves the
way for a direct air link between the two countries.
A shipping agreement is also scheduled which will contain an article on the
avoidance of double taxation from shipping profits.
The accord is particularly important to Athens, given that 85 per cent of
total trade with Cuba is carried out by vessels belonging to Greek
EU figures: Greeks smoke more but less prone to cancer
Compared to the average European, Greeks smoke more but less prone to
cancer; most Greeks are homeowners but live in crowded conditions and show
less preference for part-time employment, while they increasingly send
their children to universities.
This was the social profile of the average Greek based on a survey on
economic and social trends throughout EU member-states, presented yesterday
by the European Commission in Brussels.
The survey revealed that although two out of three Europeans generally
stated that they "feel well", official data reflected that one in three men
and one in four women were attacked by cancer before they reached
Classics prof: Ancient Greeks were environmentalists
Ancient Greeks differed markedly from their descendants in one very
contemporary area, a leading Greek academic said yesterday, namely, they
cared for the environment.
"I searched the ancient world for elements related to ecology and an
initial conclusion is that the ancient world cared about nature - there was
a clear ecological tendency in ancient religion," Ioannina University
emeritus classics professor Fanis Kakridis told a conference on "Ecology
and education in the Mediterranean".
Ancient religion had gods which represented elements of nature as well as a
protected physical region around each temple, the 'temenos', in which
hunting and any form of intervention in the environment was banned.
Prof. Kakridis said the ancients' 'temenos' was the present-day national
forests and reserves.
The conference, organised by the Crete Orthodox Academy and under the aegis
of the ministry for education and religious affairs, ends on Sunday.
OECD draft report cites progress in Greek economy
The Greek economy has made progress toward Maastricht Treaty criteria
regarding Economic Monetary Union (EMU) accession, according to a draft
report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
The report, which was released yesterday, also noted the need for tighter
fiscal policies in order to force inflation down to the levels prescribed
by the Maastricht Treaty.
The draft report stated that annualised inflation is expected to decrease
to 3.1 per cent by the end of 1999. If the government follows an even more
austere fiscal policy the country will meet Maastricht criteria by mid
According to the report, the decrease in a special vehicle tax and Value
Added Tax (VAT) on power bills will reinforce the decline of inflation. The
report added that structural changes planned by the government are expected
to contribute to inflation's drop.
OECD also reported that Greece's GDP growth rate is higher than the average
of OECD member-states, but it will be lower than forecast by the government.
The report stated that Greece's budget deficit in the broader public sector
will be slightly higher than the 2.5 per cent forecast by the government
for 1999, mostly due to higher interest rates than projected.
Administrative cost of Greek taxation double the OECD average
The administrative cost of taxation in Greece, the cost on the state budget
imposed by the operational spending of tax agencies, is up to two times
greater than other OECD countries, a report published yesterday said. The
report, by the Centre of Programming and Economic Research (KEPE), revealed
that the Greek tax system's administrative cost in relation to revenues
totalled 1.61 per cent, a rate significantly higher than other developed
The corresponding rate in Canada was 0.86 per cent. The same rate covers
the relative cost of indirect taxes in Greece compared with the rest of the
Greece's administrative cost on direct taxation was more than double the
cost on indirect taxation, the report said.
Bourse ends slightly lower
Profit-taking halted Monday's rally on the Athens Stock Exchange and pushed
stock prices slightly lower yesterday.
The general index ended 0.53 percent off to 2,303.86 points in moderate
turnover of 44.3 billion drachmas. Volume was 10,672,000 shares.
The market largely ignored a new fall in state bond yields and hopes of a
further cut in interest rates by the Bank of Greece on Wednesday.
Sector indices ended lower. Banks fell 0.49 percent, Leasing plunged 5.65
percent, Investment dropped 1.17 percent, Construction eased 1.22 percent,
Industrials ended 0.52 percent off, Miscellaneous fell 1.26 percent,
Holding dropped 2.05 percent, but Insurance bucked the trend to end 0.19
The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.40 percent
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 143 to 97 with another 22 issues
Delta sales, profits increase in '98
Delta dairies yesterday announced positive results for the first nine
months of 1998, with 17 per cent and 12 per cent increases in sales and
A company spokesman said that results were owed to limited increases in
production cost and management expenses.
Delta last week forged a strategic alliance with Chipita SA aimed at
promoting Delta's activities in southeast European markets. It has already
secured a 15 per cent stake in a buyout of two croissan production and
distribution firms abroad - Star Foods Poland and Star Foods Romania - in
which Chipita is involved.
Overcast weather with spells of sunshine will prevail throughout Greece
today with rain in the morning in the eastern Aegean Sea, Crete, the
Cycladic islands and the Dodecanese. Winds northerly moderate, turning
strong in the Aegean Sea. Few clouds in Athens with temperatures between 6-
14C. Rain in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 2-8C.
Wednesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 277.740
British pound 466.240 Japanese yen (100) 231.136
French franc 49.828 German mark 167.063
Italian lira (100) 16.881 Irish Punt 415.628
Belgian franc 8.098 Finnish mark 54.955
Dutch guilder 148.180 Danish kr. 43.944
Austrian sch. 23.746 Spanish peseta 1.965
Swedish kr. 34.645 Norwegian kr. 37.498
Swiss franc 203.132 Port. Escudo 1.629
Aus. dollar 176.011 Can. dollar 178.778
Cyprus pound 563.277